tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC April 17, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
from now. so for now and until we are back on the air a scant nine hours from now, that's our broadcast on this wednesday night. thank you so very much for being with us. and good night from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. honestly it has been a little nuts today and particularly this evening the way the news has been breaking, but you know what? you can sleep later. for now there is -- there's way too much to do, way too much to sort of absorb and get our heads around, but it is on. it is all happening now. contrary to assertions earlier this week from the office of newly appointed attorney general william barr, we apparently will not be getting some version of robert mueller's report from the justice department tomorrow morning. instead that will come later. what we're going to get in the morning is just more william barr talking about mueller without us having any access to
what mueller's actually found. it was first announced by the president oddly on a random talk radio show where he was doing an interview, but soon thereafter there was an official justice department press release announcing that tomorrow morning 9:30 eastern time there will be a press conference led by attorney general william barr and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. just the two of them, no robert mueller. it's worth pointing out at the outset that robert mueller will not be there at the press conference tomorrow because that's weird. the announced, the declared purpose of the press conference is to discuss robert mueller and his findings, so it's therefore a little weird that he's not invited. it's like a surprise birthday party where the surprise is you don't get to come even though it's your birthday. mueller submitted his report on the findings of his investigation 26 days ago. since then william barr has released his own descriptions of what he says are mueller's
findings. he has released his own instant prosecutorial conclusion that what mueller turned up as evidence should not be used to bring any charges against the president. after press reports from the "new york times" and "the washington post" and nbc news, all turned up that members of mueller's team felt blind sided by those declarations of william barr. they were angered by him misrepresenting the findings of their investigation in order to down play the seriousness of what that investigation turned up about the president after those press reports citing members of mueller's team, attorney general william barr went out of his way in a new letter he wrote to congress and subsequent congressional testimony, he went out of his way to insist that he really wished people would stop saying that he had summarized mueller's findings, even though he said what he was releasing was a summary of mueller's principle conclusions, he wanted people to stop calling it a summary. okay. he also took pains to explain that he was working hand in hand
with mueller, that members of mueller's team were themselves involved in whatever this post submitting the report redaction process is that's been going on in barr's office ever since mueller's report was completed and submitted. well, if that is true, if barr is not summarizing mueller's findings for him, if mueller's findings are going to be allowed to speak for themselves, if mueller himself is absolutely right there leading this process right now of preparing his own findings for release to congress and to the public, then you might expect robert mueller to be there tomorrow. when what they're saying are his findings are going to be released at a big justice department press conference, but mueller's apparently not invited. nobody knows where mueller is now nor where he is expected to be when william barr gives his press conference about mueller in the morning. cn nrs w cnn was first to report that neither mueller nor any member
of mueller's team will be at that press conference about mueller's findings tomorrow, red flag. why would you not involve any of the people who did the work when it comes time to explain what their work was? this is not like a posthumous report. dude's around. we did get a hint as to what might be going on here. not long after we learned about this press conference, not lodge after we got this surprise announcement from the justice department about the press conference about robert mueller that won't involve robert mueller, very soon thereafter congressman jerry nadler, the chairman of the judiciary committee confirmed publicly that that press conference is going to be convened by the justice department in the morning well before any material is released from mueller's report at all. as chris hayes was noting last hour as journalists and people involved in public affairs, it is not an unusual thing for a press conference, some sort of press availability to be called with officials to discuss a newly released document. i don't know of any instance in
which there's a press conference, a press availability that is convened to discuss a newly released document that's coming out later that you're not allowed to see yet. i mean, they're holding a press conference about mueller without mueller there with no one having had the chance to view anything produced by mueller or read anything from his findings before they're supposed to form their questions for attorney general barr about whatever it is he's going to say are the results of mueller's investigation. oh, i see what's going on here. when nobody has seen the report, they're going to convene this press conference where once again they will just have william barr say stuff about mueller without any actual appearance by mueller. only after that, only after whatever it is they're going to do at 9:30 tomorrow morning will they release whatever it is they're going to release from mueller's findings minus the redactions that william barr insists upon. and then we got more, less than an hour after they announced this press conference, this press conference before people are even allowed to see the
report, less than an hour after that announcement from the justice department, we also got a new court filing in the roger stone case which had another surprise about what's going to happen tomorrow. turns out we learned in this court filing today, it's not just one version of the redacted mueller report that's being prepared by the justice department. this government notice to the court that's filed by prosecutors in the roger stone case, the u.s. attorney's office for d.c. tells the judge in the roger stone case this, quote, once the redacted version of mueller's report has been released to the public, the justice department plans to make available for review by a limited number of members of congress and their staff a copy of the special counsel's report without certain redactions. quote, including removing the redaction of information related to this case. this version of the report will not be made available to the media or in public settings. really? this is a surprise.
what the justice department is saying in this court filing is that among the material that's going to be redatcted from the public version of mueller's report released tomorrow, among the stuff cut out of it is stuff concerning this ongoing case related to roger stone. however that roger stone stuff isn't going to be cut out of a less redacted version of mueller's report that they'll give to congress, but not to all of congress, just to a limited number of members of congress and their staff. the filing goes on to say that that less redacted copy of mueller's report won't just be given out to limited numbers of members of congress and their staff, quote, rather the justice department intends to secure this version of the report in an appropriate setting that will be accessible to a limited number of members in and their staff. so some unknown number of members of congress and their staff will get access to a less redacted version of mueller's report, but they will not be allowed to hold it and take it
back to their offices or have copies of it. they will only be allowed to look at it in some sort of secure environment. they have to leave it there when they go. so says this somewhat random filing in the roger stone case today. that's how we learned from the justice department there's going to be multiple versions of mueller's report. this is news. we did not know that there was going to be different versions of mueller's report for the public and the congress. this is the first time there's ever been any public notice of that. we didn't know that some members of congress are going to be allowed access to some less redacted version of the report. we can surmise who they might mean. oftentimes when the justice department or other national security agencies try to make distinctions like that where some members of congress are allowed to see stuff and others can't, usually they're referencing the top leadership of congress and also the intelligence committees. sometimes it's also the leadership of other committees that have specific oversight
responsibilities related to the matter in question. we don't know exactly who they mean when they say a limited number of members of congress will get this less redacted version. begin what is usually the case, given the limited audience in congress that's usually intended when they try to narrow it down like this, we contacted the office of senator mark warner today. he's the top democrat on the intelligence committee to say hey, in your role as the top democrat on intelligence did you know this was coming? did your office have any idea that there's some less redacted version of mueller's report that's going to be made available to you presumably, to some small number of members of congress? mark warner's office told us tonight it's news to them. they had no idea. quote, while we have seen l filing, quote, doj has not communicated this to us. like wise, after we got that comment from senator warner's office, the office of house intelligence chairman adam schiff told us tonight that they
have heard nothing specific about this beyond reading what they read in today's filing. also within the last hour the chairman of the judiciary committee in the house, jerry nadler held a sort of makeshift last minute press conference in new york in which he said his committee also was able to read that filing from the roger stone case today, so they saw it. they know what it says, but other than that, than what's in that filing his committee, quote, has no knowledge of this. and he added that his committee has agreed to no such arrangement. so this surprise declaration in this random court filing about there being multiple copies of mueller ears repo mueller's report, and there's plans to allow them to review it in a special room, i mean, this all came in a response to a motion that was filed by roger stone's lawyers, one of gazillion motions that stone's lawyers filed late on friday
night asking for everything including the moon in this big raft of motions they filed on friday night. roger stone's lawyers among other things demanded an unredacted copy of the mueller report for themselves. they said they needed it for the purpose of mounting roger stone's legal defense in the criminal case against him. i am not a lawyer. i don't think that is going to happen. i don't think that roger stone's lawyers are going to get a full unredacted copy of mueller's report if nobody else get it is. it was that request from them that result instead this responsive filing by these prosecutors which revealed barr's going to produce different copies of the report for different audiences. there will be some secure room in congress where some members of congress may be invited to see a less redacted version, although apparently nobody in congress including the chairs of the ranking members of the relevant committees has been cons consulted about this plan. in this court filing tonight, prosecutors from the d.c. u.s. attorney identifies also sort of warned the judge in stone's case
that these -- this small number of members of congress, this limited number of members of congress that they plan to show the less redacted version of the report to, they warn in this filing tonight that those members of congress might not be content with this arrangement. they might not be okay with just reviewing the document in a skiff somewhere in some sort of secure room. they may want to try to obtain copies of the documents themselves. if so prosecutors warn in the filing to the court tonight there's a possibility that if that happens a less redacted version of mueller's findings might leak to the public. quote, if those members of congress asked to be provided with copies of this less redacted version of the special counsel's report or portions of it, such that there exists a reasonable likelihood that the information related to this case may be available to the media or accessible in a public setting. the justice department would seek guidance from the court prior to acting on that request.
so this today, this filing today, this is the prosecutors in the stone case saying there's going to be multiple versions of mueller's report. congress is going to get more of it than the public does. we're going to try to keep what we show to congress from leaking to the general public. if it looks like there's a risk that might happen we'll come back to the court and get advice. >> it's mueller eve. this is all being sprung in d.c. district court. the judge in the stone case who's going to be considering this filing today is judge amy berman jackson. she's also the judge that had the d.c. part of the paul manafort case, the alex van der zwaan case. she's now got the roger stone case which continues, which is due to go to trial this fall, which today led to this revelation about how the mueller report is being redacted or not. interesting, though, in that same courthouse, though, in that same courthouse where amy berman jackson sits there was another
curve ball that just arrived at the last second before whatever it is that william barr is going to do tomorrow, and this other curve ball is also from the d.c. federal district court. it's not amy berman jackson. this last minute curve ball in that courthouse came from a different judge in that district named reggie walton. he was a george w. bush appointee. he sits in that same d.c. courthouse, the same district as amy berman jackson. judge walton has been assigned the two most high profile cases by first amendment and media groups that are seeking to have mueller's findings released to the public and the press without redaction, and now at the last minute right before whatever it is barr's going to try to release tomorrow, judge reggie walton has made clear that he thinks that he has a role in this part of the process. judge walton is now saying that attorney general william barr alone will not be the sole figure who decides what gets cut out of mueller's findings. according to judge walton the courts will have a say.
he personally will have a say in what the public sees and what we do not. the freedom of information act requires public disclosure of certain government documents. it's a fascinating area of law, obviously a fundamental tool for government accountability, for journalism, for research. there's a whole rich vein of litigation and case law around the freedom of information act and what it requires, and what are its limits, in these foia cases ab the mueller report, judge walton is proceeding on the basis of the contention that the mueller report is exactly the type of document that will be subject to public release under the freedom of information act. if a document is liable to release under foye ya, the government can try to keep such a document under wraps or they can try to keep parts of it under wraps. but foia isn't just like a
principle. foia is a law. therefore federal judges get to rule on whether or not those types of assertion by the government are valid. if the government wants to hold something back, a judge will sometimes get involved and say whether or not the government is right in trying to hold back material that somebody else says ought to be released. judge walton says that's what he's going to do when it comes to mueller's report. he's going to weigh in on the redactions. yesterday afternoon in federal court judge walton asked prosecutors from the department of justice, from the d.c. u.s. attorney's office for a definitive answer as to whether this document that barr is planning on releasing tomorrow is the same thing the justice department would plan to release in response to requests under the freedom of information act. so he's saying, listen, let me know. what you're going to release on thursday morning. is that also what you would release in response to foia requests? if so, if the government is planning on redacting all of the
same stuff from mueller's report when they're eventually required to release it under the freedom of information act, well, judge walton now says he may insist on reviewing exactly what those redactions are. he may insist on personally reviewing what it is the justice department is trying to cut out from mueller's findings. judge walton is saying he may insist on reviewing the full unredacted document himself so he can see what the redactions are and what supposedly justifies those redactions because under the freedom of information act he says that he the judge should be the one who decides whether those redactions are valid and legal or whether that redacted stuff should also be released under foia. judge walton is asserting his own ability to do that in court and right away. hearing yesterday we got the transcript of it today, he wants them back in court by may 2nd, which is two weeks from tomorrow, ask he says he is planning on handling this on a fast track. so think about what that means.
put yourself in william barr's shoes right now. if you are newly appointed attorney general william barr and tonight you are planning on a big day tomorrow, you are planning on making yet another william barr public declaration of what you say mueller found and you're planning on doing that tomorrow without anybody being allowed to read what mueller found and without mueller being allowed to explain himself what he found and without mueller or anyone on his team being available to answer questions about what they found, no, you are planning on you handling all of that in your own terms and nobody being able to check you against the real record. you're william barr tonight, you're planning on one or two or multiple different versions of mueller's report being released minus everything you want taken out of it. heading into that bold plan for tomorrow morning, you now know that at least one federal district court judge in washington, d.c. is planning on checking your work soon, and that judge is already expressing
concerns in open court about how you are handling this matter and why he might need to correct for it. this was judge walton in open court yesterday afternoon. we just got the transcript, you ready? quote, obviously the judge says, there is a real concern as to whether there will be full transparency, and i hate to say it, but unfortunately, you know, the attorney general has created an environment that i think is going to cause a significant portion of the american people to be concerned about whether there is transparency, and that puts the court, obviously, in a very difficult situation. but i have dealt with difficult situations before, and you know, i'm of the view that there's going to have to be some type of probing on my behalf as to whether or not appropriate redactions have been made. i did not know the best way to do that. there have been several occasions where the courts have had to do an in camera inspection of the withheld documents to make an assessment as to whether or not the withholding of that information is appropriate under the statute. that's something we'll have to
work through. it's something i'll have to think about as to if there's a challenge to the propriety of the withholdings, you know, how do i best assess whether the government's position is correct. robert mueller's prosecutors, people working on the mueller team have already expressed frustration and anger that attorney general william barr has misrepresented mueller's findings and in particular he has down played the seriousness of what the mueller investigation discovered about the president. mueller's report in its unredacted form, presumably lays bare exactly what they found without sugar coating it. if not they wouldn't be upset, right? if barr is trying to sugar coat it or if he's trying to cut out the worst stuff, he as of tonight has to know that he's going to be found out. that either through the judiciary committee, subpoenaing the unredacted report and getting it that way, or some judge ordering the release of the six e the grand jury material that he's withholding,
ordering the release of that material to congress or some other judge like judge walton, say, reviewing all of barr's redactions and saying which of them he thinks are bogus. there's multiple paths now. ultimately the distance between what william barr releases tomorrow and what mueller actually concluded will be known. it's going to be known like next month. despite the pressure that has to put on william barr in terms of what he's going to release heading into tomorrow, there are- you know, there's a million red flags flying about how barr intends to proceed here. i mean, barr holding his press conference before the report is released to anybody is itself a red flag. barr hold his press conference about mueller without mueller or anybody on mueller's team, that's a huge red flag. i mean, barr's initial decision within 48 hours of receiving mueller's report in the first praise that he would release his own exculpatory summary of what
he said are mueller's conclusions despite the fact that mueller prepared his own summary of his own work intended for public release. that was a red flag big enough to use as a bed sheet. but now on top of all of that, tonight the "new york times" reports this. ahead of whatever is going to happen tomorrow, the "new york times" reports that barr has already given the white house access to mueller's report before it has been shown to congress or before any version of it has been shown to the public. they've already been talking it through with the white house. the "new york times" reports tonight quote, justice department officials have had numerous conversations with white house lawyers about the conclusions made by robert mueller, the special counsel in recent days according to people with knowledge of the discussions. the talks have aided the president's legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public work over its findings. the discussions between justice department officials and white house lawyers have also added to
questions about the propriety of the decisions by attorney general william barr since he received mueller's findings late last month. yeah, you think? we can sleep next week. for now this is what's happening. this is a story that is now officially flipped on. it's developing further every five freaking minutes tonight which is part of the way that you can tell. but they are going to try to pull this thing off somehow tomorrow morning. even at this late date, seems quite clear that they still are not sure what exactly they can get away with and what exactly they can try, but it's on now. this is it. stay with us. ith us ♪
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you inspired us to create internet that puts you in charge. that handles anything. that protects what's important. and reaches everywhere. this is beyond wifi. this is xfi. simple, easy, awesome. tonight we are fielding multiple breaking news stories ahead of the justice department's planned release of some version or versions of robert mueller's report tomorrow morning. at the top of the list is this provocative new story from the "new york times" saying that justice department officials have had extensive discussions about mueller's findings with the white house ahead of tomorrow's planned release.
there have been quote, numerous conversations with white house lawyers well ahead of the report's release. is that what you're supposed to do with the special counsel report on alleged criminal acts by the president? you're just supposed to give that to the president before you show any version of it to anyone else? is that how this was supposed to go. >> joining us is the former act k solicitor general in the obama department. neil is joining us on the phone about 30 seconds before he has to get onto a plane. neil, thank you for making time for us. >> thank you. >> first, let me just ask you about this report from the times that justice department officials have been briefing the white house on mueller's findings ahead of releasing it to anybody else. is that what the special doun s counsel's regulations spell out? >> i think the technical term i learned in law school for this time of behavior is super extra stinky. there are very careful rules that have been around for generations, governing the white
house, contacts with the justice department in general, and that's because our country's founders understand the prosecution power is massive, both because the president's enemies can be indicted and the president's friends, their wrongs can be covered up. even in just an ordinary case there's a very, very careful set of rules, and it's extremely rare to give the president any knowledge whatsoever of criminal cases, and this is that problem on steroids. the president is the subject of the investigation, and honestly, i've never heard of such a thing. it's a complete breach of precedent. it's a breach of common sense, and indeed it makes trump look blatantly guilty. >> in terms of the decision to do this within the justice department, would you have expected that somebody in the justice department would have played a wbit of a gate keeper role here, would have tried toz to say if this is as inappropriate and out of keeping with justice department precedent and principle as you described, isn't there somebody
in the justice department who would have tried to stop this or raised the alarm about thdoing this? >> i would have hoped so. but this justice department has purged anyone who thinks independently or who's consistent with the traditions of the department. and look, i guess i could imagine an argument that said manager like this, this report is going to be so damaging to the president we need to give him a heads-up. the weird thing is that trump himself took that off the table. he said the report totally exonerates him, so either that's wrong and the report doesn't exonerate him, or he's just willing to trash decades of doj precedent for nothing. either way, it stinks to high heaven. >> neil, the other decision that william barr has made today that's received a lot of criticism including from former u.s. attorneys and former justice department official ss that he's going to be giving a press conference tomorrow, again, apparently describing mueller's findings. he's doing that before there's going to be any planned release
of mueller's findings and he's apparently doing that without robert mueller. it will be barr and rosenstein, not mueller himself, and again, nobody having access to any of mueller's documents before that press release, before that press availability convenes. do you have any response to that? >> yeah, i mean, at this point enough with william barr already. i mean, he's already once issued a summary, non-summary that cleared trump in 48 hours after mueller took two years and didn't do that, and now it just looks like he's trying to get out of the mueller report. i honestly don't recall the justice department ever doing something like this and first giving a press conference and then later having the documents and giving the press conference without the investigators there like mueller, and certainly not in a high profile case like this. and again, all of this together is just a complete breach of precedent and it leads me to think boy, there's not actually just smoke there. there must be some fire.
>> former acting solicitor general of the united states, wrote the special counsel regulations. if you miss your flight because you were on the phone with me, i'm going to get you a huge book of drink tickets. i'm really sorry. >> thanks, neal. >> we just got a little more news about this rollout of the mueller report, new news that has developed while we were on the air. as i told you, this is now happening. the light switch is on, and so the news is just going to keep developing. we've got a new demand on the attorney general from people he should probably listen to. we will have that story for you right after the break, just developing news. stay with us.
it was not in his plan for this evening, but we saw that he was in place at a hastily convened press conference tonight with the chairman of the judiciary committee jerry nadler, and we saw congressman hakeem jeffries, a chair of the house democratic caucus. we wrangled him and asked him to please come down to the studio to talk about some of this breaking news tonight. thank you, i know you weren't planning on being here. >> great to be here. >> we did just get breaking news i want to ask you about. this happened actually since the press conference. the chairs of all of the key committees on these topics in the house, the judiciary chairman, gerald nadler, adam schiff, the oversight committee elijah cummings, maxine waters,
elliott evening l. they released a joint statement calling on attorney general william barr to cancel his press conference on special counsel mueller's report which as the chairs note is scheduled to take place before congress is set to receive the report tomorrow morning. i'll read you part of it, quote, these new actions by the attorney general reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect president trump. the attorney general previously stated i don't believe it would be in the public's interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion. he should let the full report speak for itself. with the special's counsel's fact gathering work concluded it's congress's responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly. this is essentially the chairman including the chair of your committee judiciary telling the attorney general to get out of the way here? >> that's correct. under no circumstances should the attorney general proceed with that press conference
tomorrow. it's wholly inappropriate. bob mueller is a well-respected professional. he conducted a 22-month investigation. he wrote a report that's approximately 400 pages long. the mueller report should speak for itself period, full stop. no misdirection, no manipulation, no misinformation coming from the so-called attorney general. it's not acceptable. he's acting more like a house counsel to an organized crime boss as opposed to the people's attorney, and it's got to end. >> in terms of -- i'm going to ask you something i don't think you're going to answer. i'm going to ask you anyway and i'm going to bother you about it. during the course of the mueller investigation we understand that some committees in congress, including the intelligence committee, potentially the judiciary committee at times had to deconflict with the special counsel's office to make sure what they were pursuing in terms of their congressional informati
investigation wasn't going to mess up the investigation. that requires communication with the special counsel's office. since robert mueller's investigation has come to a close and since this report has been handed over to the justice department, has there been ongoing communication between the special counsel's office and the congressional committees that might give you insight between what's going on? >> chairman nadler indicated earlier today that he expects that bob mueller will testify before the house judiciary committee sooner rather than later as well as other individuals involved in the mueller investigation. we can't trust anything that's coming out of the department of justice, and all we want is the facts. all we want is transparency. all we want is disclosure so the american people can evaluate the four corners of the mueller report on their own. >> we don't know what's going to be redacted tomorrow, when it comes out, and we don't know based on the way in which it's redacted if we'll even be able to tell quantitatively how much
has been cut out of it. given that, i wonder if the prospect of mueller testifying assuages any of your concerns about what barr might cut, if mueller is subpoenaed to testify, if he's requested to testify, is he at liberty to appear? is there anybody who can block him, and will he be able to testify about what might have been cut out of that report if it was improperly redacted in mueller's eyes by barr? >> he certainly should be at lib liberty to appear. he's an american citizen. he's not an employee of the department of justice at this particular time. they can't block him. we fully expect he would want to be cooperative, particularly if bob barr has engaged in a sustained campaign to try to color in inappropriate ways the findings of the mueller investigation. >> if barr is going to release a report that raises concerns for you tomorrow, obviously chairman nadler has secured the authorization from the committee
to issue a subpoena. how do you think that will go? for those of us who don't know congressional subpoenas versus grand jury subpoenas versus who enforces that sort of thing, what is your best guess? wi not what you're hoping but the way you think it will unfold. >> i think in my view, first we want to evaluate carefully whether the report has been overly redacted. we've agreed in the beginning that sources and methods should not be disclosed wechlt don't want to jeopardize any national security concern as it relates to the safety and security of the american people. we also have this concern that i think is justified by the behavior that we've seen from the attorney general over the last few weeks where he seems to be acting like the president's publicist as opposed to facile fa -- facilitating the this disclosure of this information. 17 different intelligence agencies concluded that russia interfered with our election to art fi artificially replace donald
trump at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. we need to figure out what happened, why it happened, how do we prevent something like this from happening again and we have to get the four corners of the report and the underlying documentation. the initi >> there was a court filing in the roger stone case of all places, where the justice department said there's going to be multiple versions of mueller's report prepared for release. whatever they're going to release to the public there will be some less redacted version that will be made available to some members of congress in a secure facility inside congress. did you have any idea that they were planning to do that before that court filing came out today? >> i did not. jerry nadler was asked this question and he indicated there has been no agreement or cooperation with the department of justice as it relates to any underlying redactions that may or may not be communicated. this came out of left field, and you know, it was just another example of some of the strangeness that is unfolding out of the department of justice. >> it does seem like they are
feeling their way along here and making their way up as it goes. >> i think that's right. >> congressman hakeem jeffries. he's also chairman of the house democratic caucus. thanks for changing your plans. >> great to see you. >> really appreciate it. >> we'll be right back. stay with us. does this map show the peninsula trail? you won't find that on a map. i'll take you there. take this left. if you listen real hard you can hear the whales.
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nooooooo... (dad) nooooooo... (vo) quick, the quicker picker upper! bounty picks up messes quicker and is two times more absorbent. bounty, the quicker picker upper. in 1973 richard nixon needed a new attorney general because he had fired his old one. along with the deputy attorney general on a saturday night in october of that year, 1973 richard nixon axed his way through the upper echelons of the justice department until he found somebody who would fire the special prosecutor who was investigating watergate. that of course came to be known as the saturday night massacre. and you can imagine nixon was like ooh, that was tough, but at least the watergate prosecutor is gone. the country was really mad about what happened there, and very soon after that whole conflagration we ended up
getting a new watergate special prosecutor. and of course richard nixon had to appoint a new attorney general to lead the justice department as the new attorney general, that nominee would of course become the boss for the new watergate special prosecutor. for that job, for the a.g. job nixon picked this man, william saxby. . at his confirmation hearing with the watergate information hanging by a thread, confirmation hearings focused on exactly that. william saxby was asked essentially the same question over and over again, will you interfere with the watergate investigation. will you interfere with the watergate investigation, will you, will you, will you, and william saxby said over and over again, no, i won't interfere with the watergate investigation or the watergate special prosecutor. then to get right to the point, they brought the watergate special prosecutor himself, they
brought leon himself into the hearing room to sit down right next to william saxby to assure senators there was nothing to worry about. they had leon jaawarsky vouch for the attorney general as part of his confirmation process. yeah, with e ge get along. i vouch for him. he's not going to mess with me. he says he's not going to mess with me. i won't let him. they even did a buddy buddy press conference about it. >> the question being exploited a the graegreat length, prosecu affairs without any -- >> what would you do if the new attorney general now the attorney general designate tried to interfere in any way with your pursuit of the investigation? >> i'd march him down to this congressional committee if he and i couldn't work it out amongst ourselves. >> that is what it looked like
when the country was in crisis when the watergate investigation was in jeopardy and people needed to be assured that there was no cover-up underway. there was no effort at the top of the justice department to protect the president from an investigation into his alleged crimes. here's the two guys, key guys together standing up saying don't worry. we got this. hold that thought. hopes you drive safely. but allstate actually helps you drive safely... with drivewise. it lets you know when you go too fast... ...and brake too hard. with feedback to help you drive safer. giving you the power to actually lower your cost. unfortunately, it can't do anything about that. now that you know the truth... are you in good hands? my dbut now, i take used tometamucil every day.sh
and what would you do if the new attorney general tried to interfere in any way with your pursuit of the investigation? >> i'd march him down to this congressional committee if he and i couldn't work it out among ourselves. >> you could put the special counsel, the special prosecutor right there with the attorney general. you could put them together to assure everybody that there wasn't something going on between them where the attorney general was quashing the work of the special counsel, the special prosecutor. you could do it they way. tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. eastern time, the attorney general william barr will hold a press conference ab the release of the redacted mueller report. he'll do it alongside deputy attorney rod rosenstein. typically press conferences are the type of thing you hold when you want to, you know, answer questions about the thing you're there to talk about, but tomorrow we now know nobody will have the opportunity to as much see robert mueller's report before that press conference
about it. barr will hold that press conference before the report is released, and again, it's the robert mueller report. mueller was the person in charge of the investigation. he's the guy that wrote this report. tonight the justice department confirms mueller is not going to be at that press conference to answer questions about his findings which no one has been allowed to see. saxbe and jaworski was one thing. barr and mueller apparently will never be seen in the same room. joining us now is nbc news presidential historian michael beschlo beschloss. >> love being with you, but maybe not such a dark night. >> does it feel like a dark night? >> it does. >> what about this issue of tomorrow's press conference? >> i think it's blatant. when you're seeing is an attorney general saying i'm not going to be an independent attorney general of the kind that americans have come to expect in the last half century. you were just talking about richard nixon. richard nixon's first attorney general as you well know was a
guy named john mitchell. >> his campaign manager. >> his campaign manager and close friend. when nixon was in the white house plotting to send burglars into various places and opening people's mail and violating other people's civil liberties, he knew he didn't have to worry about an attorney general who would hear about this and call his investigators or quit and have a press conference and saying this is what your president is doing american people, you should know about this. since the offenses of watergate, we have come to expect that that's the kind of attorney general that we will have. what we've seen with william barr really in the last month from that four-page letter to his parroting donald trump about spying, to this whole display we're about to see tomorrow where this wiet house gets to see this report before we do, and this press conference, barr is going to be out in public telling us what to think. what he's basically telling us
is i'm not going to be an independent attorney general of the kind you americans have come to expect. i think that's really dangerous. >> you referenced john mitchell, the way the john mitchell attorney general saga ended was with mitchell serving a prison term. >> yes. >> nixon's second attorney general also ended up being implicated in watergate. >> another lap dog. >> and then he got to elliott richardson who he had to fire in order to go against the -- in order to try to get rid of the watergate prosecutor. elliott richardson seems to be the pivot point at which the united states of america by hook or by crook decided we weren't going to put up with the kinds of things nixon was trying to get away with. we had elliott richardson and william saxbe after him. >> and every president since then more or less has had to worry about if he is plotting to do something bad in the white house his attorney general will
make big trouble for him. what william barr has shown us during the last month and maybe tomorrow more than anything else is i'm going to be a different kind of attorney general. and remember something else, you were talking last night about how barr made himself very useful for president bush 41 in 1 1989. at the end of 1992, he was the one who said pardon six reagan era officials in the iran-contra investigation. the result of that was the independent counsel lawrence walsh said this is a saturday night massacre. you've just killed my investigation. this is something barr has done before. >> michael beschloss, nbc news presidential historian. on nights like this, nobody i'd rather talk to. >> thank you so much. >> we'll be right back. stay with us. ght back stay with us
what are you going to do tomorrow? i don't know. what are you going to do tomorrow. i was thinking about taking the morning off and going fishing. that does it with lawrence o'donnell. >> i know exactly what you're going to be doing tomorrow morning. we're going to read as soon as we get it in our hands, sounds like noontimish, maybe. >> we'll see. if it's the length of a pamphlet and fits on a bumper sticker, no collusion. we'll see. >> rachel, i'm sure google will confirm this, but from my own personal memory, of the government of the united states, i'm about to bold little assert we have never before in history seen a group of house committee chairman call on the attorney general of the united states to cancel a press conference. >> right? >> attorneys general don't have a lot of press conferences and tend not to be controversial.